On a recent Sunday night at Cleveland's Grog Shop, a small but devoted crowd shimmied enthusiastically as the Corin Tucker Band ripped through most of their new album, Kill My Blues (Kill Rock Stars). If the quartet was disheartened by the turnout, it didn't let on. The band — vocalist/guitarist Tucker, guitarist Seth Lorinczi, drummer Sara Lund, and bassist/keyboardist Mike Clark — pogoed through a high-energy set which touched on diverse styles: ragged fuzzrock ("Summer Jams"), buzzing dance-punk ("Groundhog Day"), keyboard-driven garage-pop ("Constance"), and simmering neo-disco ("Neskowin").
Yet what stands out about Kill My Blues's songs — both live and on record — is their velocity. This fluid movement arises partly from Lund and Clark's chemistry, Tucker noted via phone a few weeks before the show. "They have clicked into this really solid organism of the drums and the bass," she laughs. But what also contributes to the disc's lively sound is that Kill My Blues was more of a full-band effort than the Corin Tucker Band's 2010 debut, 1,000 Years.
"We have a group of really talented people, but everyone has different strengths," Tucker says. "With 'Neskowin,' I had the verse and the chorus. But when we put that song on in the practice space, everyone [started] jamming on it. Suddenly, we had this disco part in it. We were like, 'What is happening?' Seth was, like, to Sara, 'Really go for the disco beat.' The nice thing about being a little bit older and playing music together is that you can ask people to try and step out of their comfort zone a bit."
Tucker, too, seems more willing to explore different styles. At the Grog Shop, her controlled, shrieking yelp cut through the music like jagged glass — just as it did in her Sleater-Kinney days. But she dipped into a velvety, bluesy coo on a few songs, and went coquettish new-waver on a cover of Blondie's "Atomic."
This light-dark juxtaposition also drives Kill My Blues's lyrics. "There's a lot going on in this record," Tucker says. "The whole band has gotten to this really fun place; we've written these songs and gotten into this dance-y, upbeat place. And I feel like I'm in a really confident, happy place in my life. But I think the record is about the journey to get there.
"In the past few years, I've had to say goodbye to some really important people in my life. [And] there's a lot of frustrating things in terms of the politics that are going on this year, which also definitely played a role. This record is taking stock of where I'm at as a person — and mostly being really happy about it. But there are some markers of what's been happening in the past few years."
CORIN TUCKER BAND + VERSUS + SPEEDY ORTIZ :: T.T. the Bear's Place, 10 Brookline Ave, Cambridge :: September 28 @ 8:30 pm :: 18+ :: $16 :: 617.492.0082 or ttthebears.com